Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00
Robert Beatty Peelle, 93, died peacefully in his sleep March 16, 2013 with his youngest daughter by his side. He was born May 26, 1919 in Brooklyn, NY, a ‘birth-right’ Quaker, the oldest of the four children of Henry Edmund Peelle and Inez Beatty Peelle.
Bob was raised in Forest Hills, NY, and attended public elementary school there. Secondary school education was at Friends’ Academy of Locust Valley, NY. At age 16, he was admitted to Swarthmore College, PA, and graduated with a BS in Civil Engineering in 1939. He earned an MME from NYU in 1941 and an MBA from Columbia University in 1979 at age 60.
Bob married Gertrude Elaine Maginniss (Gemmy), also a 1939 Swarthmore graduate, on April 11, 1942. They first lived in Schenectady, NY, where he worked for General Electric. They reared their six children in Manhasset and Roslyn, NY, while he worked for the Peelle Company, a multi-generation family business manufacturing industrial and elevator doors, based first in Brooklyn, then Bay Shore, NY. Bob and his brother eventually headed the company and oversaw its expansion to several operating plants. The two brothers retired in 1989, the control of the company being passed on to Bob’s nephew and middle son. After living half a century on Long Island, Bob and Gemmy moved in 1996 into the Rydal Park retirement community. Gemmy pre-deceased Bob in 2008.
Of his various activities, Swarthmore College was a focal point. As a student, he lettered in soccer and lacrosse, and served as president of Kappa Sigma Pi fraternity. He had been alumni president of his class continuously since 1943. He and Gemmy attended alumni weekend every year and were members of Swarthmore’s Legacy Circle. Throughout his adult life, Bob was very involved with community (residential association president) and church (deacon, Sunday school teacher, choir). He enjoyed riding ocean waves, reading, and, with Gemmy, playing tennis, singing in choirs, and, especially, ballroom dancing. Annual family summer trips included Ocean Grove, NJ, and Deering Family Camp, NH. Bermuda and Vero Beach, FL, were favorite destinations for vacation later in life. Bob cared deeply about family, serving as the self-appointed record-keeper for his large extended one. Bob will be lovingly remembered as a people-person, philosopher, negotiator, teacher, raconteur, generous giver, and always the most energetic person in the room.
Celebrating his wonderful life are his six children and spouses: Howard and Carolyn Peelle of Shutesbury, MA; Robert, Jr. and Susie Peelle, Jr. of Locust Valley, NY; Paul and Diana Peelle of Amherst, MA; Elaine and Brian Roquemore of Nashville, TN; Sallie Swartz and Alan Bernhardt of South Deerfield, MA; and Nancy Brien and Robb Daly of Washingtonville, NY; 21 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren; as well as his sister Marilyn Rath, his sister-in-law Dorothy Andrews, and numerous nieces and nephews.